This crock pot zuppa toscana soup is an Olive Garden copycat recipe that makes it easy to bring the taste of Italy home. A simple dinner for busy weekdays!

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Side view of a large bowl filled with prepared zuppa toscana soup.

About Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana

Nothing beats a big bowl of comforting soup. Except for maybe being able to make one of your favorite restaurant soups from the comfort of your own home, in your most comfortable clothes, on those cloudy days you don’t want to leave the house.

Because that’s exactly what this slow cooker zuppa toscana soup can do: give you all the flavor of Olive Garden’s best soup without having to leave your house.

And better yet, this soup is made in a crockpot, so you can set it and forget it until it’s time to dig in and eat.

This soup is one of Homemade Hooplah’s most popular recipes, and for very good reason – it’s a copycat recipe that’s so spot-on that it’s almost better than the original!

What’s in zuppa toscana soup?

To enjoy your own hot bowl of zuppa toscana soup, you’ll need to collect the following ingredients:

  • Ground hot Italian sausage – Adds some protein with a delicious flavor. You can also use an equal portion of any flavor of sausage (or level of spiciness) or substitute this for other ground meats (beef, chicken, turkey, etc).
  • Yellow onion, garlic, salt, and black pepper – Common ingredients for hearty soups that add delicious flavor.
  • Russet potatoes – Because nothing is as comforting as soft potatoes in a soup. You can also substitute this for red or golden potatoes. Peeling the potatoes is also optional (especially for goldens!)
  • Chicken broth and heavy whipping cream – For creating a delicious, creamy broth for the soup. You can also substitute the chicken broth for an equal portion of more water or vegetable broth. Dairy substitutes, half and half cream, or omitting the heavy cream altogether can also be done.
  • Kale – A classic ingredient for this soup that adds some soft, leafy texture. This can also be substituted for an equal portion of spinach, collard greens, or mustard greens. One reader even recommended using endive. You can also omit the greenery entirely if you’d like.
  • Parmesan cheese – Totally optional but it gives this Italian soup a classic cheesy topping.

Do you have to use kale?

Since posting this recipe, one of the most common questions about this soup has been about the kale. Because, weirdly enough, kale has the reputation for not being very tasty. Oh so strange, I know.

So, as someone that is not normally a fan of kale myself but is a fan of this soup, I can confirm that kale can taste good – in the right circumstances. And the flavors in this soup go a long way in bringing out the very best qualities in kale, giving this soup a great veggie texture and an added nutritional bonus.

However, if all the positive vibes in the world couldn’t sell you on kale, many readers have substituted the kale for spinach and liked the results.

Close up view of a bowl filled with zuppa toscana soup, showing off the potato, sausage, and kale.

What else can you add?

Soups like this are very forgiving and are great for adding your own touch of flavor, such as:

  • Cooked and crumbled bacon.
  • Red pepper flakes.
  • Doubling the meat content (from one pound to two). You can use the same meat or even use different types.
  • Cannellini beans.

If you’ve made an addition to this soup that you enjoy, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

How can you thicken soup?

This soup is fairly brothy, but there are two easy methods for making it thicker:

  • Blend or mash a portion of the cooked potatoes within the soup.
  • Create a slurry. When adding the heavy cream, reserve two or three tablespoons of cream and whisk it with one tablespoon of cornstarch, then mix it in with the soup. The soup will progressively become thicker the longer it cooks.

How long is zuppa toscana good for?

Once prepared, this Italian soup can last in the refrigerator in a sealed container for three to four days.

Can you freeze zuppa toscana?

Yes, you totally can! Soups are great for freezing in individual-sized portions, too.

To freeze, allow the soup to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a sealable container or freezer bags.

Soup can be stored in the freezer for up to two to three months.

What to serve with Italian soup?

If you’re serving soup as the main course, you might be wondering what else to serve with it. And I totally get it; soups are one of those gray areas where it can be an appetizer, side, or main course, and each situation can call for different options.

In my house, we typically serve soup with:

  • Bread. Whether it’s plain toasted bread, a bread baked with cheese, or even some simple sandwich, anything with bread is bound to be a good complement to soup.
  • Salad. And when serving salad with soup, I try to pick a variation that has different (yet complimenting) ingredients to the soup. Leafy salads or hearty pasta salads are always a good fit.
  • Meat dishes with minimal seasonings. You don’t want the other recipe to totally steal the show, but a lightly flavored chicken or beef dish would go great with potato soup.

Notes & tips for this zuppa toscana crock pot recipe

  • You can make zuppa toscana soup in numerous ways, but the main staples are kale, heavy cream, and potato. I’ve seen soups that use both bacon and chicken, but I’ve always felt it works best with sausage (and Italian sausage at that).
  • This soup isn’t difficult to make on the stovetop, but I’ve always liked the convenience of a crock pot, and this Olive Garden zuppa toscana recipe is a perfect example of what a crock pot can do. I’m a big fan of this crock pot – it has three sizes in one!
  • And if you like Olive Garden copycat recipes, be sure to check out this one for Parmesan Baked Shrimp!
Close up side view of a spoon holding up a portion of zuppa toscana soup.

More tasty soups

How to make zuppa toscana soup

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Since this recipe is made in a crock pot, the instructions are very simple.

Step 1 – Cook the ground hot Italian sausage, garlic, and yellow onion in a large skillet (draining the grease from the skillet).

Step 2 – Add the cooked veggies & sausage, potato, seasonings, and chicken broth to your crock pot. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.

Step 3 – Add the kale and heavy cream to the crock pot, stir, then cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.

Step 4 – Serve and enjoy!

And that’s it! This recipe can also be made on the stovetop, but sometimes you need the extra freedom that a crock pot can provide on a busy weeknight. There’s nothing more comforting than a crock pot full of soup!

Recipe Details

Side view of a large bowl filled with prepared zuppa toscana soup.
4.37 from 11790 votes

Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana

20 mins prep + 4 hrs cook
280 kcal
Yields: 8 servings
This crock pot zuppa toscana soup is an Olive Garden copycat recipe that makes it easy to bring the taste of Italy home. A simple dinner for busy weekdays!

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound ground hot Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 4 diced russet potato
  • 1 pinch salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper, to taste
  • water, see recipe instructions
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)

Instructions

  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crumble hot Italian sausage, about 5-8 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until some of the onion begins to turn translucent (no need to cook onion completely at this point). Drain grease from skillet.
    1 pound ground hot Italian sausage, 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic, 1 chopped yellow onion
  • In a crock pot, add cooked sausage & veggies plus the diced potato. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour chicken broth on top. There should be enough broth to cover the tops of the potatoes; if there isn't, add up to 2 cups water so potatoes are covered.
    4 diced russet potato, 1 pinch salt, 1 pinch black pepper, 4 cups chicken broth, water
  • Gently stir ingredients, cover crock pot, and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  • Remove lid from crock pot and add kale and heavy whipping cream, then stir to combine.
    1 bunch kale, 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Cover crock pot and cook on HIGH for another 30 minutes.
  • Serve zuppa toscana immediately with shredded parmesan cheese as garnish.
    1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 867mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2021IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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Recipe Rating




361 comments

    • Staci

    I made this on the stove top. Added some ground sage for seasoning. Instead of kale I used parsley. This came out really good! Delicious soup!

    • Amy

    This looks amazing. But the carb count is definitely low. One russet potato has around 37 carbs, so there should be at least 17carbs per serving from just that alone.

    • Jessica

    I have this in the crockpot right now. My son has a milk, beef, pork allergy so I am using Jennie-O Turkey Sausage sprinkled with a few crushed red peppers. I also added mushrooms. I am going to use full fat coconut milk instead of the HWC. I hope it turns out. It smells so good already though. I am excited to try new recipes for him!

      • Jessica
      • 5 stars

      Update:
      It turned out perfectly!
      I am making it again tonight minus the mushrooms (husband’s request) and kale (kid’s request), but I thought it was perfect the first time I made it!

    • Kristine

    I have been making this for years for my family and large family events, doubling sometimes trippling the batch! They can’t get enough! Only thing different I do is use spicy sausage because we like it spicy. Love this recipie!

      • Neesa

      I want to make this for thanksgiving, if I double the recipe to make a bigger batch, how long should I set it in the crockpot on low heat?
      Or high heat? Please help, thank you in advance!

      • Hey Nessa! You should be able to increase the yield without adjusting the cooking time, so long as the crockpot is not overly full. If in doubt, do a fork test on the potatoes when the soup “should” be done; if there’s any resistance, that’ll let you know if you need to add some extra time (probably no more than 30 minutes to an hour).

    • Fredericka

    SO YUMMY!! How many cups are in one serving?

    • Maria r
    • 5 stars

    Absolutely Delicious !!! I added more water/broth bc I like my soup soupy lol I also used hot johnsonville sausage (what I had on hand ) and added 3 slices of bacon. I didn’t drain the sausage or bacon and it just added more flavor and calories 🙂 pretty versatile recipe ! Could twist it a lot of ways and make it work

    • Tena Barke

    I’m making this now with mild Italian sausage and I used the food processor for the onion and garlic…….I am going to add cannellini beans with the kale and cream for a heartier meal

      • Rita Debnam

      I like the idea of the addition of the cannelini beans…will be doing that next time.

    • Sheri

    Will make this soon as this is one of our favorites at Olive Garden. Has anyone used frozen spinach instead of kale?

    • Mary Sanney
    • 5 stars

    This is wonderful …,thanks for sharing!!

    • Kim T.
    • 5 stars

    ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! Both my husband and I had seconds, there is only enough left for one bowl full which my husband has dibs on.
    Thank you so much for posting it.

    • Jessica Frazier
    • 5 stars

    Zuppa Tuscana is my absolute favorite from Olive Garden. I seen this recipe pop up in my newsfeed on facebook one day a few years ago & it has been by far the best copycat!! I make it often & my family loves it! Only thing I due different sometimes is use mild Italian sausage instead of hot. I’ve sent a few family members & friends this recipe page & it’s been a hit with them as well!!

    • Patrick Kelley
    • 5 stars

    I use Johnsonville Hot sausage. Comes out delicious. One time I used another brand and it came I bland. Trust me and use Johnsonville.

      • Patrick Kelley
      • 5 stars

      Oops. The I in the sentence should have been the word out. Oh well lol

      • Kimberly

      You are so right. I have used store brands and it has come out very greasy and bland. I also double the sausage to 2 lbs. Delicious!

    • Anna Menchaca
    • 5 stars

    I made this today and it was so easy, very few ingredients and my husband and I loved It! Will definitely be on our soup rotation.

    • Sarah
    • 5 stars

    Absolutely love this recipe. I make it often but not in the crock pot. I will do that this week.
    My favorite soup.

    • Carliel

    I’m not a fan of potato skins and I HATE peeling potatoes! Do you think yellow potatoes would work with this recipe? I don’t mind those skins!

      • Gouda Day

      I made this tonight with Yukon Golds and it was delicious. I also used a few more potatoes than it calls for and highly recommend using Italian kale, instead of the curly variety.

      • Kimberly

      If you get the nice smaller Yukon Golds you will not have to peel them. When you eat this soup you will not even realize the potatoes have not been peeled.